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Who is Mitzi S?

[Part 1]

Ahhh…. Mitzi S. Sigh. Where do I even begin? Well, I suppose the story starts around January 1st, when I signed up for a swim challenge at the YMCA. I love my Y, for all the reasons that Ys are great, like the free coffee in the lobby, and being able to use any Y anywhere, and also did I mention the free coffee in the lobby? 

I LIVE for that coffee.


My Y had a contest to swim 23 miles in the first month of 2023. This seemed like an unfathomable amount of swimming to me. See, I have a very finely-tuned relationship with swimming. I think swimming gets a bad rap from most triathletes, but I’ve worked hard (and I mean hard) not to hate it. It’s really not that bad once you change your mindset. The majority of my swim workouts up to that point were around 1,700 yards. 

A mile of swimming is counted as 1,650 yards. My sister and I looked up the history of this because if you’re left-brained like me and take the time to do the math you’ll discover that 1,650 yards does not in fact equal 5,280 feet. But for reasons that only the metric and imperial system can explain, in conjunction with the ancient Greeks, we count 1,650 yards as one mile when it comes to swimming. That is 66 lengths of the pool (or, if you’re my mom, 33 laps. She feels very strongly about the terminology difference between a lap and a length. I use them interchangeably; the horror).

I signed up for this challenge thinking this would be a great way to really get me motivated to swim. I’d have to swim 3 times per week and at a minimum do 2,800 yards per workout. Inconceivable! However… those who completed all 23 miles in January would win a prize! I am highly motivated by prizes. Give me a t-shirt, gift card, or even a dinky water bottle and I. AM. IN.

Duly motivated, I kicked off the challenge right away on January 1st. And then, a few days later, I eagerly checked the leaderboard, which would be updated every Monday morning, to see how many people had signed up. (I like to scope out the competition.) 

Three! What! Shocking! Didn’t people realize there was a prize? It was me, a fellow named Keith, and someone named Mitzi S. I figured I had this in the bag. I could definitely out-swim two people!

I started the first week out in the lead, of course, not a big shock, the 34 year old triathlete is obviously out-swimming these people, whoever they are. But then the next week something changed. Mitzi S was ahead… like 2 miles ahead of me. 

Who is Mitzi S?

This is me celebrating how close I am to Mitzi. You’ll notice I’m past the 23 mile mark, swimming 23 miles was not even remotely a factor in the competition at this point.

There was a clipboard next to the pool where we recorded our distances swum everyday. She was putting in a solid 110 lengths 6 times per week! This was insane. I started swimming 3,000 yards consistently; I was in the pool for like 2 hours every time I went. I was still behind!

I went to the pool every day, I started going on the weekends, I was desperate to get more time in and to get ahead. I swam 4,000 yards one day!! I just breaststroked for like 45 minutes at the end of the workout just to get those yards. And meanwhile… I could not figure out who Mitzi S was! I never saw anyone else writing on the clipboard yet these numbers kept magically appearing next to her name. I never saw anyone in the pool who looked like a super intense athlete, so who was this lady cranking out 110 lengths like it was no big deal?

I had Hubs in on it too. Every time he went to the Y, he’d walk past the pool and scope it out, checking the clipboard for me. We had all sorts of theories. Maybe Mitzi S is a young swimmer who practices twice a day, maybe she’s a swim coach and is counting all the swim lesson time and lengths, maybe she’s super competitive and is wearing flippers and using a kickboard, just motoring back and forth and knocking out like 3,000 yards in an hour.

There were no sightings of Mitzi S. I was still 2 miles behind and literally getting sick from the amount of effort to hold that gap.


One Saturday morning, I happened to walk into the locker room on the heels of an older lady I’ve gotten caught chatting with once before. Very chatty, guaranteed to go on for some time. She starts to engage and I am ashamed to admit I quickly scurried behind a wall and started getting my swimsuit on. I heard her transition her convo to another woman and think “whew, dodged it.” Not a very Christian attitude but still, I had swimming to do!

THEN I hear this elderly woman say, “Well it’s just me, Keith, and this other woman I don’t know but apparently she’s a triathlete?”

My heart stopped. I was mid-disrobing and I whipped around that corner in all my glory and said much too loudly for a public locker room, while pointing my finger accusatorially, “YOU’RE Mitzi S?!”

She slowly turned and gave me the slyest smile I’ve ever seen, saying, “And youre the other woman.” 

We just stared at each other.

“I’ve been looking for you.” [That was me.]

“I bet you have.”

[To be continued…]

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